Why do the priests keep a Shikha or Choti on the head?
Whenever we go to a temple, we find Brahmin priests with a tuft of hair tied up neatly at the back of their head, originating from the top of the head. They keep it very nicely and always knotted. This tuft of hair is called shikha.
This shikha, as per Vedic scriptures, is a symbol of Brahminical qualities and culture which has been imparted to a person undergoing a strict training under the guidance of a bonafide spiritual master who is well qualified in all Vedic scriptures and well placed in the science thorough realisation of the absolute truth.
Science behind keeping shikha:
- Shikha, as per the Vedic shastras originates from the brahmrandhra or the topmost point of the head near the occipital lobe of the cerebrum. This point is the centre of all neural activities and is considered to be the energy bearing point of all the bodily functions.
- Tightening the hair knot right above the suture induces marvelous psychological benefits. It helps in harmonious blood circulation in the brain in normal conditions and augments alertness.
- As described in the yoga-scriptures, it also lends support in increasing mental concentration and meditation. In terms of its sublime spiritual effects, the shikha works like an antenna in the outer domain of the sahasrara chakra (topmost extrasensory centre) to link the individual consciousness with the cosmic consciousness.
- As per the Vedic injunctions, the shikha helps the supreme personality of godhead to pull us from the material world to the spiritual world.
We have commonly observed a choti or shikha i.e. the tuft of hair, prominent among the Sanatan Dharma. The Shastras declare that any religious rite such as a yagna or homa is fruitless without a shikha (Katyayan Smruti). When the Gurukul system of education prevailed, the pupil was eligible to study only after having a shikha.
All the religious act should be performed after tying the tuft but only the funeral and death anniversaries are performed with tuft untied or with dishevelled hair. It is very inauspicious to remain with dishevelled hair. It is done only diin times of great sorrow or calamity. Like Draupadi took an oath in the assembly of the Kurus when she was molested by Dussasana that she would remain with dishevelled hair until the enemies were properly revenged. Also, Kaikeyi remained with dishevelled hair in her apartment with the object of getting two boons from Dasaratha which were detrimental to the interests of Rama, the favourite of Dasaratha.
Significance of ‘choti’ or ‘shikha’:
- There is a common belief that a choti allows the almighty to pull us easily from this ‘material world’ as it is the nexus of all nerves.
- The Brahmarandhra is the seventh chakra (also known as the Sahasrara chakra), the highest one in the human body which represents a thousand- petaled lotus.
- It is considered the seat of wisdom and the knotted shikha protects this spot.
- When the fully enlightened being attain jeevan mukti or salvation, the soul is said to depart the human body from this chakra.
- The knotted shikha helps boost this center and conserve its subtle energy known as ojas.
- Sun i.e. the primary source of clean energy, when falls on the rest of the head is soaked by the brain and helps in reviving the body and soul energy.